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Book Review: The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

donmaklesJul 8, 2020, 7:47:58 AM
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I don't even know where to begin with this one, especially that we are right in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Everything that is going on right now, at the beginning of the third decade of the 21st Century, is exactly what this book has warned us about and I'm not talking about how the governments responded to the pandemic. Governments will always be the same, no matter what political philosophies or economic systems they operated. I'm talking about the people. How they unquestionably accepted the restrictions of their rights and willingly surrender their freedom. How they beg for more government in their lives in exchange for the false blanket of security.

Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.

~Dr. Ron Paul.

Anyway, if you hate socialism before reading this book, you're gonna hate it even more now. But this is more than just socialism or communism. This is about the people who corrupted themselves morally, blinded themselves with the cult of personality, and just accepted a state-imposed lie.

It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. 

~James Monroe.

The book started with a very powerful foreword from Dr. Jordan Peterson and I agree with him, that this book should be a required reading material in western universities along with George Orwell's 1984.

Why, for example, is it still acceptable to profess the philosophy of a Communist or, if not that, to at least admire the work of Marx? Why is it still acceptable to regard the Marxist doctrine as essentially accurate in its diagnosis of the hypothetical evils of the free-market, democratic West; to still consider that doctrine “progressive,” and fit for the compassionate and proper thinking person? Twenty-five million dead through internal repression in the Soviet Union. Sixty million dead in Mao’s China. The horrors of Cambodia’s Killing Fields, with their two million corpses. The barely animate body politic of Cuba, where people struggle even now to feed themselves. Venezuela, where it has now been made illegal to attribute a child’s death in hospital to starvation. No political experiment has ever been tried so widely, with so many disparate people, in so many different countries and failed so absolutely and so catastrophically. Is it mere ignorance that allows today’s Marxists to flaunt their continued allegiance – to present it as compassion and care? Or is it instead, envy of the successful, in near-infinite proportions? Or something akin to hatred for mankind itself? How much proof do we need?

~Dr. Jordan Peterson.

The book is basically about Stalin's reign of terror and as I said before, if you're still a socialist after reading this book then something is seriously wrong with you. The full extent of the evil nature of humanity took place under Stalin.

Excerpt:

So long as they didn't go against their fellow Blue Caps or the state, they could do pretty much anything they wanted; which they did. A school professor is giving a lecture on something you don't like? You can forbid him from saying anything else. You saw an apartment that you would like to live in? You could have it, and if it happens to already be occupied, just throw the tenant into a cell on whatever charge comes to mind. A woman catches your eye? She's yours, so go ahead and take her.

It was a very horrifying period of history. Everybody were not safe. Not even those within Stalin's circle. He gave power to the extremists in the government and down to the prisoners themselves. You can't trust anyone because you don't know if the person beside you is a traitor or not. People sent to prison for absurd things. Heck, when they gave Stalin a 10-minute long ovation, the first person to stop clapping was sent to prison afterwards.

There are so much to talk about this book, but it so much better if you read it yourself. It's a quite long read and I recommend the audiobook version since it's a non-fiction book. I think it would be easier to listen to but that just my opinion. Unless, of course, you need it for an academic research paper, then use the hardcopy.

All you freedom-loving “left-wing” thinkers in the West! You left laborites! You progressive American, German, and French students! As far as you are concerned, none of this amounts to much. As far as you are concerned, this whole book of mine is a waste of effort. You may suddenly understand it all someday—but only when you yourselves hear “hands behind your backs there!” and step ashore on our Archipelago.

Originally Posted: Goodreads/donmakles